House Republicans passed a bill Thursday that would cut $39 billion (5%) from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — SNAP, also known as food stamps — by dropping millions of Americans from the nutritional assistance rolls.
Currently, childless adults who work less than 20 hours per week are allowed a maximum of three months on SNAP every three years. However, it's up to states to waive that time limit when unemployment is high.
The House bill would prohibit such waivers. About half the 3.8 million-person expected reduction in 2014 SNAP participation (off a base of 48 million) under the bill comes from eliminating that waiver.
The left-of-center Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has been closely monitoring this situation and has identified which states will bear the largest brunt of the changes.
Here are the states with the largest percentage of people who could lose SNAP because of the eligibility change for childless adults. Note, many are strongly Republican states in the South:
Stacey Dean at the CBPP explained what's going on here.
Many states that have very small changes in eligibility — places like Texas — already apply a tight time limit for childless, unemployed SNAP beneficiaries. In the case of North Dakota, unemployment is already very low and so there is no cause for a waiver.
Oregon, a state where a large drop in participation is likely, waived the time limit statewide for considerably longer than other states and as such has a high SNAP participation rate — a full 3% of Oregonians are childless, working less than 20 hours a week, and on SNAP, and would therefore stand to lose benefits under the GOP plan.
In the southeast — big time GOP territory — relatively large portions of the population are on SNAP due to systemic poverty. That's worth considering.
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